The hunt for lost treasure

I attribute my love of thrift/consignment/junk stores to several things: base cheapness, the thrill of treasure hunting, and my favorite childhood book, Bonnie Bess the Weathervane Horse.  In that story, an old weathervane falls from a barn and is picked up by a junk shop proprietor.  Here are the accompanying pictures:

These illustrations taught me an early love of all things dusty.

By a happy coincidence, I happen to live only a mile or two away from several establishments where I can indulge my need to sort through racks of musty clothing and endless piles of discarded tchotchkes.  The shops I visit range from the well-organized Consignment Depot, with tasteful displays throughout its warehouse-sized showroom, to the end-of-the-line, should-be-condemned mess of a flea market called My Favorite Place.  These storehouses of used items are selling some diverse and spectacular wares – the Depot was selling a black leather designer chair that had originally retailed for $7000.  My Favorite Place, on the other hand, had someone trying to sell rocks – $5.95 for a fist-sized lump that could have been pulled from the ground in my own backyard.

You just can’t find sh*t like that at Target.

Also spotted on my last thrift-store excursion:

  • a shadowbox containing a glass bottle in the shape of a banjo, a miniature oil lamp and the words, ‘Make a Joyful Noise to the Lord’
  • a pair of small, brown metal partridges for $15 (I am KICKING myself for not buying them)
  • a vintage hairdryer – the kind that looks like a suitcase with a shower cap attached to it:
  • some small, knotted bundles made of socks and pantyhose, labeled as ‘Pig Faces’ – price, $2 apiece

I held off on the pig faces, and I’m glad I did, as my search for bargain treasures did yield some hollow handled knives in the ‘Patrician’ pattern that match my current set.  (I’m sticking with the blunt-ended knives, as I’m having a problem with the forks.)  And then I found an old copy of Franny and Zooey, by J.D. Salinger.I’ll be upfront – I have not read Franny or Zooey and I may not ever.  I picked up the book with the intent of thumbing through the contents, but I ended up purchasing it for the dust jacket notes alone, which Salinger wrote himself.  Just inside the cover he said that it was his intent to follow up these two stories with a complete series about the fictional Glass family:

It is a long-term project, patently an ambitious one, and there is a real-enough danger, I suppose, that sooner or later I’ll bog down, perhaps disappear entirely, in my own methods, locutions and mannerisms…I think I have fairly decent, monomaniacal plans to finish them with due care and all-available skill.

I read those lines while standing in an aisle of cast-off books, and knew that I wanted those words in my life on a permanent basis.  If I had the skill or patience to embroider them on a pillow, I would.  What Salinger was saying about his books, he may as well have been saying about everyone’s biggest long-term project – life.

Not a bad insight to score for three dollars off a used-book rack.

And you just can’t find sh*t like that at Target.


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